As a college instructor, September is always a busy month, but it was full of interesting moments in the sports world too! Here’s a few I’d like to highlight.
Golden State Warriors Start Preseason Strong
The Warriors won their first preseason game in Japan against the Washington Wizards, with the highlight being James Wiseman dunking over Kristaps Porzingis. The Warriors were a great story in 2021–22 getting their core four of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala (who confirmed he’s returning for his 19th season) with the help of a wave of young players to win a championship.
Chicharito’s Brace Gives LA Galaxy the Win in the Last California Clasico of the Season
This showdown in Stanford Stadium would be the last meaningful match of the season for the San Jose Earthquakes, at least in the fans’ eyes. Mathematically eliminated from MLS Playoff Contention prior to it, San Jose still needs no motivation to give it their best against their biggest rivals. LA Galaxy have bigger fish to fry, ensuring their playoff spot and boosting their seeding as much as possible. The disparity between the two teams was on full display in the first half as their big name players Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Riqui Puig scored. Galaxy’s attack was dangerous while the Quakes’ was toothless. The Earthquakes improved in the second half, with most of the promise coming from young players Cade Cowell and Niko Tsarkis. The 3–2 scoreline flattered the Earthquakes as it never looked like the Galaxy would let the lead slip, and that just reinforces where the two teams are this season.
First few weeks of NFL defined by Chaos and Injuries
While chaos and injuries can define many NFL seasons, both of those meters got pushed to 11 to start the 2022 campaign. Blown leads from the likes of the Cleveland Browns (vs the New York Jets), the Baltimore Ravens (vs the Miami Dolphins), Las Vegas Raiders (vs the Arizona Cardinals), and of course the Atlanta Falcons (vs the New Orleans Saints) had everyone shook. More could’ve been added to the list as the Detroit Lions gave the Philadelphia Eagles a scare.
However, many key players are getting hammered with injuries. We are already losing Trey Lance (49ers), Taylor Lewan (Titans) and Micah Hyde (Bills) for the season, and Justin Herbert (Chargers) and Mac Jones (Patriots) took some hits too. The scariest injury situation involves Tua Tagovailoa in a saga spanning two games: a heroic win over the Bills on Sunday, September 25 but then 4 days later in a Thursday Night Football showdown with the Bengals a more serious injury occurs. This raises a lot of questions about the league wide safety protocols and the decision making by the Dolphins organization, even if the individual who made the biggest call was an unaffiliated neurologist.
USA and Mexico Lifeless in Friendlies
These two nations are never favorites to win the World Cup, but usually stand a good chance of advancing to the knockout stage and being a tough out. This time around, their performances leave much to be desired. Not after this recent wave of friendlies. Mexico edged Peru in a 1–0 victory before coughing up a 2–0 lead en route to a 3–2 loss to Colombia. While South America is the toughest region to qualify out of, most would expect Mexico to perform better against nations that didn’t ultimately qualify. Meanwhile, USA played against qualified nations Japan and Saudi Arabia and failed to score against either of them. They were dominated in a 2–0 loss to Japan and a 0–0 draw against Saudi Arabia is hardly inspiring. Tata Martino and Gregg Berhalter should be on the hot seat, but whether or not anything happens to them even with a group stage exit remains to be seen. As a Mexican American, I hope that’s not the case.
England Relegated in UEFA Nations League
You read that correctly. This time, English clubs didn’t get relegated, but the England National Team itself got relegated in their UEFA Nations League group. This is an experience new to most of these players, a group consisting of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, and other Premier League mainstays. Doomed to relegation after a 1–0 loss to Italy, not even a spirited 3–3 draw against their rivals Germany could change this window being anything other than a failure. England finished last in a group consisting of Germany (a nation they beat in last summer’s European Championship), Italy, and Hungary, the latter two failing to qualify for the World Cup. Gareth Southgate has led England to 4th place in the 2018 World Cup and runners up of the European Championship, but he’s facing more pressure than Martino and Berhalter combined. England are expected to top a World Cup group featuring USA, Iran, and Wales, so anything less than a quarterfinal run would be disastrous and with this talented English core, the pressure to win a tournament sooner rather than later continues to mount (no, not you Mason).
Judge and Pujols Chase Home Run History
Albert Pujols successfully reached the 700 Home Run milestone in what will be his last season in baseball. At the time of writing, Aaron Judge’s 62 Home Runs on the season is good to surpass fellow Yankee Roger Maris for most in the American League. Whether you believe it’s the “real baseball record” or not depends on how you feel about Barry Bonds and his record of 73 home runs in a single season, with the runners up Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire also marred by PED controversy. These milestone chases are not particularly fun for me as an Oakland Athletics fan as they involve division rival Angels and American League villains Yankees, but as a baseball fan, this is what we love about this beautiful pastime.
Seattle Mariners End 21 year Postseason Drought
The world was a lot different back in 2001, but in the 21 years since then, the Seattle Mariners constantly failed to reach the postseason…until now! Of course it had to happen in victory over the Athletics, but I wouldn’t wish two decades of failure on my worst enemy. Imagine that: failing to meet the minimum expectation in your field for twenty years. Mariners fans had to endure some difficult seasons and saw some star players like King Felix Hernandez come and go. Regardless what happens in the postseason, that monkey is off their back (even if it cost Seattle Sounders their spotless MLS playoff attendance) and with a young generational talent like Julio Rodriguez, this could mark the dawn of a new era in the Pacific Northwest.
These are just some of my favorite storylines from September 2022, but what did I miss? Let me know on Twitter @IvanOrnelas2!